- The UAE is a shining example of women’s empowerment in the Arab world, explains H.E. Dr Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, President and Speaker, Federal National Council
Your Excellency, you have a great number of prestigious ‘firsts’ to your name – the first female member FNC, the first female Deputy Speaker, and the first woman to preside over a parliament in the Arab World. What helped you in realising these achievements?
As an Emirati woman, I am proud that the UAE is at the forefront of empowering women. This is thanks to the vision of our leadership, which has long sought to nurture the potential of everyone in our society. The late His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the Mother of our Nation, Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Chairperson of UAE General Women’s Union, recognised early on the importance of providing equal opportunities to both men and women in the development process.
This conviction became the primary factor for the success and accomplishments of UAE women. Moreover, personally I feel proud to acknowledge the support of my family, as without them this would not have been possible.
I acknowledge the impact of what IEDEA is doing by hosting these powerful global gatherings in the UAE every year. The ABLF showcases not only business leaders but also emphasises key societal values for development.
I feel honoured to be a part of the UAE’s women’s empowerment movement. I consider the accomplishments of all women in the UAE, including myself, the fruits of the efforts of our wise leadership. Achievements in the UAE are not for personal glory, they are the results of institutional efforts by the leadership and the government aimed at emancipation and empowering women equally with our male peers.
What would you say are the challenges that women in leadership face in terms of empowerment and engagement in the Arab and larger Asian region? In your opinion, how can this be tackled sustainably?
All regions of the world face their specific challenges when it comes to women’s rights. To understand these challenges, we should remember that women’s empowerment begins with the presence of political will. We must also get rid of legislative, cultural, societal and administrative obstacles, which prevents a woman from performing her role. Then we should adopt initiatives, measures and reforms that support empowerment. In this context, we can understand the role played by the UAE and the efforts of the late Founding Father, H.H. Sheikh Zayed.
Today, the UAE has come a long way and has called for Emirati women to occupy 50 per cent of the country's Federal National Council seats. The directive by the country's leadership will place the UAE among the countries with the most female representation in parliament, overtaking the UK and US where women make up about 32 per cent and 19 per cent of Parliament and Congress respectively, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
What would be your advice to other women and girls in the Arab world?
Today, we live in the age of empowered Arab women and there are bright examples. Many Arab leaders believe in the role of women and the importance of women’s empowerment. Countries of the Arab region have made progress over the past years in promoting gender equality through women’s education and inclusion in the workforce. There are now more women than men who attend university in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the UAE, Algeria, Jordan and Kuwait. Rising educational levels and increased internet access will result in more female empowerment.
In the UAE, we feel proud because our achievements in women empowerment have become an inspiring and leading example to other Arab efforts. In the UAE, we have moved from empowering women to empowering the society through women.
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